Turning a Side Hustle into a $9k/mo Business, with Pat Walls from Starter Story

Summary

Pat Walls runs Starter Story, a site packed full of interviews with founders talking about how their businesses started and how they're doing today.

It wasn't the first thing he built and wasn't really supposed to become his main business.

So, how did he get here?

Pat tells his own founder story on The Failory Podcast.

Lessons learned

  • Learning to code was the pivotal skill that allowed Pat to build a startup.
  • After building his first startup (with room mate) they expected to get customers immediately. But hadn't thought about sales. Had to go out and hustle during the day job.
  • On first product (Delite) “It was more of a cool idea than a need to have. We didn’t validate it properly…they didn’t need it enough to set it up today”
  • Signups are great but.. look at usage. Are people actually signing in and using your software?
  • Focus on B2B products - “It’s a lot easier to make money from other businesses than from consumers”. A business spending $10K per month on an engineer will think nothing of a $100 per month tool (that adds value).
  • On starting a content / affiliate business - Following guru advice of picking an in-demand niche isn't right for everyone. Pat started an affiliate blog in the pets space but gave up after 3 weeks. Decided to create content around something he was passionate about - Entrepreneurship.
  • Built Starter Story as a vehicle to find another project and learn more. Doing something is better than nothing even if it's not yet the final business you want to build.
  • Challenges (a 24 hour start up) are a great way to bring people into your world - whether watching or taking part.
  • On getting things to go viral - Sometimes he spent a lot of time and was sure it would be popular but no one cared. Then there were times where he never thought a particular post would go viral. Tries to build systems to enable that but it feels like 100% luck when it does happen. “When it’s really big, it’s always luck”.
  • On building a business - “Consistency is the key. I don’t think it matters what idea you pick as long as you work on it consistently”
  • Being public about ups and downs (ie being vulnerable) is a way to a) be true to yourself and where you are, and b) attracts people to you - it's a marketing tool
  • Advice for new founders struggling -  "Impatience is one of the hardest things, it’s never growing fast enough, but if you work hard on something every day, progress is bound to happen. Be patient and just work and get stuff done, focus on the most important thing that can improve yourself or the business. Do that enough and you’ll have anything you want"

Show Notes

  • Pat goes over his timeline on how he got into Tech.
  • Switching from industry to startup.
  • Delight; the challenges that ultimately lead it to fail.
  • The beginnings of Starter Stories.
  • Quitting his full-time job.
  • Being vulnerable with publicity.
  • What would Pat say to his past self.


Links & Resources

  • Pat’s Twitter
  • 24 Hour Startup Challenge - Livestream event where over 200 founders launched a project in 24 hours.
  • Delite - Pat shared the details behind Delite failure on a written interview on Failory.
  • Deloitte - Providing audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax, and related services to select clients.  
  • Anaplan - Anaplan gives you unprecedented line-of-sight across your business, to orchestrate operational execution based on financial priorities.
  • Y Combinator - A new model for funding early-stage startups.
  • Starter Story - Pat's site where he interviews successful entrepreneurs.
  • Starter Story /open - Pat shares Starter Story's numbers transparently.
  • Pigeon for Gmail - Turning your Gmail into your full business hub.